Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SxSE: Coach Dave Van Horn's Arkansas Razorbacks

♦ Recruiting footprint:  Based on recent rosters, Van Horn tends to recruit from Arkansas, Texas, California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Missouri (he's always had some success in the St. Louis area), plus random players from IN, CO, NC and NM.

Rex Nelson's Southern Fried (a finger-lickin' good website) tells the story of how Dave Van Horn was long-time coach Norm DeBriyn's heir apparent at Arkansas, even as Van Horn was having great success at Nebraska.
“I had talked to Norm in the spring of 2001 and really felt he was ready to step down,” says Van Horn, who was at Nebraska at the time. “If they wanted me as the head coach at Arkansas, I was willing to go at that point. Norm called me while we were at the Big 12 Tournament in 2001 and said he was going to coach another year.”

Nebraska went to the College World Series in 2001, the school gave Van Horn a lucrative contract extension, a new stadium opened in March 2002 and Nebraska returned to the CWS later that year.

“Suddenly, it became a lot harder to move,” Van Horn says.
ArkansasSports360 zeroes in on Van Horn's defining characteristic: brutal honesty
Brutal honesty has been a trademark of Van Horn's since he took over for DeBriyn after the 2002 season. Van Horn speaks his mind to fans, media and players – especially his players.

For players, that straight-forward approach can be an acquired taste. Van Horn does not sugarcoat anything and will rip into a player he doesn't feel is giving maximum effort.
. . .
"I'd rather say it, get it off my chest and move on.".
Van Horn puts the blame on negative recruiting for changes in Baum Stadium, according to ArkansasNews.com
“I’m recruiting some really high-profile kids and they always ask, ‘What’s going on with your surface?” Van Horn told a reporter in the summer of 2003. “They don’t want to play on turf.”

In 2004, the Razorbacks played on rye grass. Since then, it’s been a hybrid Bermuda.
. . .
A month ago, work began to bring in the fence by 10 feet.

“It should help us with some of the negative recruiting we’ve dealt with the last several years,” Van Horn said at the time. “It’s really gotten bad the last couple of years.”

Recruiting in baseball is more competitive than ever, Van Horn said, and “they’re using everything they can against you.”
Arkansas Baseball Patience Starts Early (SEC Digital Network)
The nine-year head man of the Razorbacks is at the helm of one of the nation's most prolific walking teams, drawing free passes better than anyone in the Southeastern Conference. This is turn gives Arkansas a high on-base percentage, with the team reaching first base 38 percent of the time they come to bat. The success in that philosophy has shown up in the runs column, with Van Horn's group putting up double digit totals four times so far this year.

But, despite the strong plate discipline that Arkansas has now, Van Horn believe true patience for a Razorback hitter begins before they ever step foot in Fayetteville. "From the time we start recruiting kids, we are checking to see if they have a feel for the strike zone," he said. "You can learn the strike zone, but it is very difficult. You have to already have a feel for it, and that comes with experience."
. . .
Once they do put on an Arkansas jersey, the philosophy of taking pitches and working the count is instilled early. Van Horn's fall practices consist of strike zone training and teaching, including drills that force players to lay off borderline pitches. . .
Pitching Coach Dave Jorn on his version of the Van Horn tough approach:
"In the fall my philosophy is I want it to be the most difficult time you are going to experience," Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn said about the way he prepared the group for the season. "I want to find out who has got some courage and some competitiveness and some toughness to them. So we're going to make it as tough as we can in the fall and see who is going to hold up under it.

"They took it all. They took it and ran with it." (swtimes.com)
Dave Van Horn with a recap of the 2012 season for his Diamond Hogs (sportstalkwithbo.com - AUDIO)

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